The Obama administration is advancing plans for strengthening the federal government’s ability to monitor the Internet.
FBI Director Robert Mueller held meetings with Google and other Internet companies in Silicon Valley this week to discuss a plan, reminiscent of past proposals (Clipper Chip and key-escrow ) which would require them to design systems to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.
The companies are not commenting publicly. TechDirt described the concept as a “legally required wiretap backdoor” to the internet.
Some civilian cabinet agencies have their doubts, says the New York Times:
“The Commerce Department and State Department have questioned whether it would inhibit innovation, as well as whether repressive regimes might harness the same capabilities to identify political dissidents, according to officials familiar with the discussions.”
“And, the simple fact is: this won’t help and it won’t matter. The people who really want to communicate secretly will still use tools to communicate secretly. The feds are (once again) being naive to think that such tools won’t exist and won’t be widely known and widely utilized. Instead, all this will do is open up everyone else to abuse of the system by other governments, organized crime, people with malicious intent and (of course) the US government.”